Over the years, one of the most popular and sought-after sub-categories of pedals is the tube screamer clone category. The term “tube screamer” comes from the original, classic Ibanez pedals, the TS808 and the TS9, or the “original” tube screamers. These pedals quickly became iconic and popular, to the extent that they’re still desired by many today. These same people now ask the question, “what are the best tube screamer clones I can get?”
There are few accessories and pieces of hardware that took off like the original tube screamers. Released in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ibanez’s line of tube screamers took off in terms of popularity and quickly became a mainstay in pedalboards worldwide.
Part of the tube screamer’s popularity is owed to famous artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan, who quickly took to these new pedals and began implementing them in all of their songs.
The legacy of the original tube screamers endures to this day. However, over time, more and more improvements and changes have been made to the design of the originals, resulting in more and more tube screamer clones being produced in the decades that followed.
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Having a tube screamer clone is an excellent option for anyone looking to take their music production to the next level. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at our picks for the best tube screamer clones of 2022.
Tube Screamer Clones Reviewed In This Guide
Best Tube Screamer Clones List
This 9-way screamer produced by JHS is one of the best tube screamer clones on the market.
JHS is a company that’s well known for producing a slew of excellent pedals and other guitar accessories. One of these famous pedals includes the popular Muffuletta, which Bonsai released in 2015. This pedal quickly gained recognition for its unique design and that it combined several different Big Muff circuits in one package.
JHS has used a similar design philosophy while making this 9-way screamer. It combines several different tube screamer modes, some of which are very popular screamer models, in one package.
The difference between these different modes and models is subtle but distinct, as long as you’re listening closely. Bonsai used software analysis to fine-tune these modes and make them sound as true to life as possible.
As the name suggests, the Bonsai contains 9 different modes: OD-1, TS808, TS9, MSL, TS10, Exar OD-1, TS7, Keeley Mod Plus, and JHS Strong Mod. These modes lend versatility to the Bonsai, so no matter how you prefer your screamers to sound, you’ll find something that suits your tastes.
The user experience has also been streamlined. Instead of requiring a pedal to switch between modes, there’s a knob on the face of the device, which gives a “click” every time it switches between modes. It’s very simple to use and figure out.
The Bonsai 9-way Screamer is one of the best tube screamer clones beginners can use. It’s an excellent first-time screamer pedal thanks to the streamlined user experience, and advanced users will be able to enjoy the variety of different modes it offers.
Next on our list is the iconic Ibanez TS9 overdrive pedal, one of the two pedals that originated the “screamer” sub-category. It’s arguably more popular today than it ever has been, and every year its reputation and status grow. Musicians from all around the world have used this screamer pedal in their music.
Originally released in the early 1980s, the TS9 enjoyed great popularity among famous musicians and earned a place in many classic albums of the 80s and 90s. However, Ibanez decided to discontinue the TS9 at a certain point, and it was only due to a strong public outcry that the TS9 was reissued.
Ibanez has made a conscious effort to make this reissue of the TS9 as authentic and faithful as possible, to the point where the housing and design are unchanged, and the parts are assembled in the same factory as they once were.
Compared to some of the best tube screamer clones that have come out since the TS9’s release, this pedal has relatively fewer controls. These controls are more precise than in other pedals.
Since its release, the TS9’s price has steadily decreased. Today, it stands out as an excellent option for guitarists on a budget.
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The JF-01 screamer pedal produced by JOYO is another excellent option for guitarists on a budget. It combines the best of vintage drivers, such as the TS808, with some modern conveniences and design tweaks that make the user experience more enjoyable overall.
The JF-01 closely resembles the sound of the TS808. It aims to pack all the features and sound quality that the original tube screamers had at a fraction of the price. JOYO achieves this in a few ways.
The tone of the JF-01 is the quality that immediately stands out once you begin using it. It doesn’t sound like it’s coming from a cheaper-lower end pedal. The tone is clear and bright but has enough range to become fuzzy and muddled, just what most people want from one of the best tube screamer clones.
It features a true-bypass design and the widely lauded JRC4588 chip, which greatly contributes to the JF-01’s performance. It has three control functions: one for volume, one for drive and one for tone. When used as a volume booster alone, it gives a distinctly warm-sounding tone.
The controls are very precise, so users can fine-tune them to get the exact sound that they’re looking for. The JF-01 is one of the best tube screamer clones out there and does what it’s meant to do superbly. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many features outside of that.
The EarthQuaker Devices Plumes is another excellent choice for guitarists who want to improve their playing abilities and widen the range of effects at their disposal without breaking the bank.
EarthQuaker is known for making high-end, performance-heavy pedals and guitar accessories that primarily appeal to advanced guitarists and professionals. However, they have been in the guitar industry for a long time and have built enough experience to manufacture one of the best tube screamer clones out there for a very low cost.
There are many advancements and design tweaks that EarthQuaker Devices has made to improve the sound quality and versatility of the Plumes. The Plumes has an all-analog approach to tone distortion in stark contrast to many of the all-digital pedals coming out recently.
Analog pedals are a mainstay for many musicians because analog devices have specific sounds and tonal qualities that digital devices cannot replicate. This pedal offers that at a very low price point.
The face of this device contains the usual 3 knobs to control the tone, gain and level expected from most tube screamer clones. However, it contains an additional knob to control the clipping the device is performing.
The clipping options are symmetrical LED clipping, asymmetrical clipping, and entirely removing clipping. This adds another layer of depth and versatility to the Plumes that only the best tube screamer clones have.
The sound quality is excellent, with a clear tone and a multitude of options to change the guitar’s sound however you want. Pair that with the low price, and you have a solid option in the EarthQuaker Devices Plumes.
BOSS is one of the most popular and well-respected names in the guitar industry. Over the years, they have built a solid collection of guitar accessories that range from high-end to low-end and appeal to all guitar users.
The CH-1 is one of the best accessories they’ve put out yet. It comes packed with controls and options to change and tweak the sound of your guitar. There are 4 main controls: effect level, EQ, modulation rate, and depth control.
When used in unison, these controls combine to give the user complete control over the tone and sound of the guitar. You can use the effect level and modulation controls to change the intensity and timings of the effects, and you can use the depth control to change the intensity of the chorus effect.
The CH-1 is very durable, so you’ll be able to use it for a very long time if you care for it properly. Durability is an important quality for traveling musicians who prefer tough equipment that can survive being tossed around and constantly moving in gig bags and the like.
The knobs are especially durable and well-made. Even after years of consistent use, you’ll find that they won’t fall off or even become slightly loose.
The CH-1 is an excellent option for beginners and traveling musicians. The excellent sound quality means that it’s perfect for studio sessions, too.
Tube Screamer Clones Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to choosing between the best tube screamer clones, it can be difficult to make a decision. There are a lot of factors you have to take into account, and, thanks to the innovations companies have brought to the screamer sub-category using modern technology, there are many good options out there.
We’ve prepared a buyer’s guide to help you decide on a pedal.
Qualities to look out for in the best tube screamer clones
A few qualities you’ll have to look out for when considering tube screamers include sound quality, durability, controls, and features.
If you’re investing in a piece of equipment that changes the sound and tone of your guitar, you should make sure the sound quality is excellent. The best tube screamer clones produce a wide range of sounds and tones, allowing you to tailor them however you want.
Durability is important for long-term use, especially for traveling musicians who take their equipment with them on the road.
There should be in-depth controls that allow you to change the main aspects of the tone, such as tone, gain, and level. These controls should have a wide range and be accurate and precise, allowing small tweaks and changes to the sound.
Some higher-end tube screamer clones pack more features, such as the ability to change between clipping modes or emulating the sounds of different screamer models. These abilities are always very convenient for users.
Why owning a screamer pedal is so useful
There’s a reason tube screamers are so beloved by musicians. These pedals allow you to change the sound and tone of your guitar in a way that no other accessory can. Having a tube screamer clone increases the options you have when it comes to playing around with your guitar.
FAQs about Tube Screamer Clones
Which companies produce the best tube screamer clones?
The companies that are well-known for consistently producing the best tube screamer clones include BOSS, EarthQuaker Devices, JOYO, JHS, and, of course, Ibanez.
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How much should I be willing to spend on a tube screamer clone?
It depends on the quality of the pedal you buy.
Lower-end pedals can set you back anywhere from $50 to-100. Higher-end pedals are often far more expensive, some reaching the $200-400 mark. However, these pedals are packed with features and usually justify their asking price.
Is it worth buying an expensive tube screamer clone?
If you’re buying a tube screamer clone for the first time, it’s best to opt for a cheap one to test it out and see if you like its sound. In 2022 there are almost countless budget-friendly tube screamer clones that are high-quality and better than some of the most expensive screamer pedals in the last few decades.
If you’re an advanced user or a professional, you should go with higher-end models. These models are packed with features and can be used for a long time, so they easily justify their price. They also offer excellent sound quality, which is always important for studio settings and live performances.
Conclusion about Tube Screamer Clones
In this list, we’ve presented some of the best tube screamers you can buy in 2022. Whether it’s sound quality, versatility, or durability you’re looking for, the pedals on this list have it all.
However, one tube screamer clone outshines the rest. That screamer is the JHS Bonsai. The Bonsai comes packed with features ranging from small conveniences to massive tweaks that will completely change how you view the typical screamer pedal.
It contains 9 modes, some of which emulate the sounds of classic screamer pedals, like the iconic TS808 and TS9 pedals. Switching between these modes is easy, and the user experience has been simplified to the point that people who have no experience with tube screamers will feel right at home with this pedal.
The rest of the entries on this list are all great options too. Whatever you pick, you’ll likely be left satisfied. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself a tube screamer clone today!